Yes, it’s that certain time again—when your nose would not stop dripping like a leaking faucet, your eyes feel all itchy and watery, and you can’t have a decent amount of sleep due to incessant coughing. So yes, it’s the season that plays host to a number of known allergies including the dreaded hay fever. Learn more about its causes, symptoms and ways to combat it.
The Low Down on Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for what most people know as “seasonal allergies”. A quick medical information though, it helps to know that anything that ends with “-itis” refers to an inflammation. So that nasty sinusitis that you had last time is simply referring to the inflammation of your sinuses. On the other hand, “rhinitis” means the inflammation of the mucous membranes that lines the passages of your sinuses. In this line, allergic rhinitis is the inflammation of these passages due to pollen, particles or any other allergens in the air that prompts your immune system to respond. Why? Because the body’s immune response is designed to view these particles as invaders that are about to wreak havoc in your entire system, including your nasal passages. The immune system releases “histamines” which are the inflammatory cells that help take care of the “invaders” and such release causes you to have the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Nasal congestion
- Watery eyes
- Sore throat
- Hoarse voice
- Ear pain or feelings of congestion or popping
Allergies: What Causes Them?
You’ll soon see that allergies come and go through one’s life span. Most commonly, people will experience seasonal allergies (hay fever as spring rolls in), while there are some people who’s got the unlucky destiny of experiencing allergies all throughout the year.
At the moment, there are roughly 20% of the American populace who suffer from allergic rhinitis. The occurrence of such tends to be somewhat hereditary and to be more common in individuals who have a health history of eczema or asthma. Some common causes of allergies include trees, dander, pollen, weeds, dust, molds and more.
Diagnosis of allergic rhinitis is simply based on presenting symptoms and medical history. Blood tests for allergy testing are deemed not ‘sensitive” enough in order to pick up on any symptoms or causes. Skin testing can be done, but is rarely needed and is performed only by an allergy specialist.
How to treat allergies?
Treatment is essentially the same, no matter what type of allergens are involved. If you know where you are allergic to, then by all means steer clear from those offending agents. Otherwise, here are some of the most common treatment options that you have:
- Use of intranasal steroid sprays.
This is the first-line of treatment when it comes to allergies. Don’t get carried away though by being afraid of the word “steroid” on the label, because it’s not the same as the oral steroids where a bunch of nasty side effects are associated with. The steroid dose in nasal sprays is actually quite low and not enough to induce a lot of those unbearable side effects that most people grow wary of.
- Oral antihistamines.
Like what was aforementioned, histamines is what your body releases to fight off those allergens, so it makes sense to make use of anti-histamines to reduce your symptoms.
- Use of prescription antihistamine nasal sprays.
- Use of decongestants.
- Nasal salines.
If none of these treatments seem to work for your case, your doctor may provide you with a referral for allergy shots which can potentially do the trick for you.